Monday, August 27, 2007
“You got another cat?” my dad asked in disbelief.
“I didn't mean to.” I retorted.
It was true. I didn't mean to but he was so little and lost. I knew as I stood there in the twilight watching the little black kitten pounce a piece of hay that I wasn't leaving the barn without him. He was barely bigger than my hand and the word around the barn was he'd been there for a couple of weeks. I hadn't gone riding in a month so I'd missed his arrival. He was living in the shed where we store the horse's hay. The hay bales made plenty of small hiding places that provided supreme shelter for such a small cat and he needed it. The barn teems with predators who'd love to munch a kitten: hawks, owls, stray dogs and that doesn't even mention the larger cats, opossums and raccoons who wouldn't necessarily eat him but if they attacked they'd leave him seriously wounded.
I glanced at my friend Amye. Neither of us wanted to leave him there. I lost the debate since Amye still has more cats than I do, even after the addition of the kitten. We made a make-shift cat carrier and loaded the kitten in my car. My husband was going to be murderous.
Five minutes into my trip home I decided to ease him into the news. A guitarist, my husband was at band practice for the evening. Band practice puts him in a stellar mood. It was the perfect time to drop the bomb shell. He'd have happy pheromones going to help buffer the blow, sort of like chocolate. Plus, he'd probably already had at least one beer. I dialed his cell.
“How's it going?” I asked. They had just acquired a new bass player and it was his first practice with the band.
“It's going great!” Brian practically bubbled through the phone. “We sound better than ever! He already knows how to play Circles. He learned the into even. And then we were playing...”
I cut him off. “I found a kitten.” I announced. Yep, that'll ease him into it.
“It's not coming to our house.”
“Too late, he's already in the car. We're on the interstate.” I could hear the gnashing of his teeth and imagine the complaints he's soon be lodging with his band members about how I was bringing home another cat. Lucky thing he had those pheromones.
Brian and I hung up and the kitten and I soon arrived at home. I set him up in the office where I could keep him separate from our 3 adult cats and the dog. He didn't know what to think of being indoors at first but a bowl of cat food mixed with some chicken broth made an immediate impression on him. He gulped down the food and soon was purring loudly and happily pouncing some cat toys I'd found for him. It didn't take him very long to decide that living in my house was a definite improvement over the hay barn.
After the trip to the vet revealed that he was transmittable disease free he was introduced to the adult cat population. Friday is great with kittens so he went first. The kitten stared at Friday from underneath my computer desk. Friday ignored him and instead sniffed the litter box and the kitten's food. Soon, though, he eased over to say hello. The kitten hissed. Friday jumped back, feelings hurt and went to hide under Brian's computer desk. That's my brave, fearless Friday. It took him several days to get over his hurt feelings but it wasn't long before he and the kitten were chasing each other down the hallway.
Hemmy went next. Hemmy was indifferent to the kitten and far more interested in the kitten's food. Hemmy is easily distracted by potentially edible items. Kit, on the other hand, didn't give a rip about the extra food. She was furious that after defeating the Labrador, I'd had the nerve to bring another animal into her house. She fluffed up her tail, arched her back and leaped hissing at the kitten. Fortunately, I was prepared for this reaction and I moved to back her up and calm her down; but before I could intervene, the kitten wheeled around, fluffed up his tail, arched his back and hissed right back at her. Kit didn't know what to do. Perplexed, she licked her lips and sassed out of the office annoyed and confused. I began to see how the little guy had avoided being eaten at the barn. He may have only been 2 pounds but he was 2 brave and aggressive pounds. I suspected that he was going to fit into our crazy household just fine.
So here I sit a few weeks later with a four cat household instead of a three cat household. I always said we were full, but I was wrong. Now we're full. Furthermore, I see my suspicions were correct and the kitten is fitting in nicely. He and Friday have a love-hate relationship that involves pouncing and running but includes a general politeness that prevents actual injury. Hemmy is still more interested in the food but that will probably never change and Kit has admitted a grudging respect and has decided not to murder the kitten after all. Since she feels the same about Friday and Hemmy I'm guessing that's the best we're going to get from her.
The kitten for his part is a fast learner. He's a bit of a stinker too and leaps out of nooks and crannies to pounce the older cats. Luckily, he's not only smart he's very fast and has avoided the occasional retaliation from the big kitties. For this reason, he still lives in the office when we're away. I'm not entirely sure if I'm protecting him or protecting the big cats but I'm certain that my own sanity is largely preserved by keeping him separate. The other thing I am sure of is that this little guy will give me plenty of stories to tell and recount here and that's something that I'm looking forward to very much.
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Friday, August 10, 2007
Where did the cats go? Friday looks near the shed.
Kit will look in the yard.
Hemmy looks behind the tree. Wait! Hemmy are you looking or are you rolling in the dirt?
Where are they? This week the cats are right at home where they always are but I'm sunning myself on a sandy beach in a mysterious location! I'll be back soon though with plenty of stories to tell.
Speaking of, I have some exciting cat related news to post when I get back. Hang in there and say a prayer for the pet sitter who has to face down Friday!
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
My in-laws went on vacation. Though they have several pets who stay at home while they travel, they decided that their 5 month old lab puppy (who's bigger than my full grown Springer Spaniel) would be better off staying at someone else's home. I offered to let him stay with us. Max is an outdoor dog and we've a fenced in yard. Our dog, Claire, doesn't love him but she only goes out to potty. How much trouble could he be?
On his own he probably wouldn't have been much trouble at all but our neighbor's escape artist Beagle showed him a few tricks and they were roaming the neighborhood the first morning. My husband and I dashed into the streets heading in opposite directions armed with cell phones and leashes. The country dog was lost in the big city. All the potential dangers spun through my brain: cars, more cars, dog-nappers. Dog-nappers! The beautiful chocolate lab pup was a friend to everyone. Anyone could have him. Visions of myself leading rescue parties through the neighborhood surfaced. We'd look in every yard. Peek into every house! I may have to break down doors, violating countless laws but I'd rescue the lost dog so help me God! I'd rescue him!
My cell phone rang abruptly ending my musings. It was my husband. Both dogs had wandered back home and were standing in the front yard. I confess, I was a touch disappointed that I wasn't going to get to kick down a door but my relief overcame that minor setback in my ongoing battle for justice and I hurried back to our house.
The dogs had pushed an old section of fence away from the ground and slipped out. I was ready to put up a privacy fence that day. Brian did some research and came back with an estimated total. Eight hundred dollars is a lot of money. We brought Max inside. How much trouble could he be?
Max isn't quite housebroken. He's a very large puppy. He left some very large puddles. No worries we decided. We hate our pink carpet anyway. He can stay in the laundry room. I moved the cat litter boxes out of the laundry room and moved Max in.
Problems solved. Except for one. Claire soon adjusted to living with another dog. Friday and Hemmy didn't mind Max too much but Kitiara-Kitiara loathed him. Max, it seemed, had committed the transgression of being canine in her presence. She simply could not tolerate such blatant dog-ness. Something would have to be done and Kit was just the cat to do it.
Kit established an anti-dog perimeter vowing to defend the feline territory from marauding puppies even if it killed the puppy. Since the perimeter was slightly larger than the house it didn't take Max long to cross the line. Kit sailed into battle! She launched all eight pounds of her tabby body at 50 pounds of puppy counting on her patented Ninja moves to avoid taking damage or catching puppy cooties. With ears plastered back and whiskers flush to her face she used a rapid firing right paw to inflict maximum damage in minimum time. Perplexed Max ran to me for help. Kit was still attached. With some trepidation I reached in and disentangled one very angry Kit from one very frightened Max. Luckily I wasn't scratched.
Max wasn't so fortunate. Distinctive scratch marks were evident in his fur right between his eyes. Kit really goes for the kill. I could tell some serious peace negotiations were in order. I put in a call to Jimmy Carter. Condolezza Rice didn't return my calls either. It was up to me.
After copious amounts of tuna and a new batch of furry mice Kit agreed to allow Max to live and even to inhabit a portion of the house. She wasn't going overboard mind you. We lived in a tense state until the happy return of my in-laws. Though they'd been traveling for the better part of a day we thought it best to take Max home that night. They were joyfully reunited with both Max and the collection of Claire's toys that Max had claimed for himself. He's a sweet dog but we were happy to have our laundry room back.
The next day dawned and with it the realization by our pets of the intruder's departure. Kit was joyous! She preened and dashed around the house looking exceedingly smug. No doubt she attributed the absence of Max to her war efforts. Reality has a way of sucking the fun out of life so I didn't disabuse her of her notions. If she thinks she's a Ninja kitty what of it? How much trouble can it be?
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